This series of articles about credit cards, points and miles, and budgeting for travel is brought to you in partnership with The Points Guy.
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If your goal is to travel more in the coming year, start now with a credit card that will help you go further, faster.
The American Express® Gold Card is an excellent choice with impressive benefits and earning potential. With a focus on dining and travel, this card offers substantial rewards on common spending categories and perks you can use when traveling or in your daily life. The flexibility of Amex Membership Rewards points is unparalleled, offering access to some of the lowest award tickets to Europe, Asia and beyond.
If you're in the market for a card that rewards you generously, then the Amex Gold Card is worth checking out. Here’s an overview of what makes the card special, followed by our comprehensive overview:
- Generous rewards on dining, groceries and travel: Earn 4X Membership Rewards points on dining worldwide, 4X at US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, then 1X) and 3X on airfare purchased directly or through Amex Travel.
- Dining credits and Uber Cash: Up to $10 in monthly dining credits valid at select restaurants and $10 in monthly Uber Cash.
- The Hotel Collection Benefits: Up to $100 in activity credits on qualifying stays of two nights or longer booked through Amex Travel’s Hotel Collection.
- Travel protections: Secondary rental car and baggage insurance when using your Amex Gold to make travel reservations.*
Overview of the American Express Gold Card
The American Express Gold Card stands out from other credit cards, primarily appealing to those who want to earn valuable rewards on everyday spending. Its key features and benefits include a generous rewards program, statement credits and some travel protections.
What sets this card apart is its exceptional 4X rewards rate at restaurants worldwide and US supermarkets, making it a top choice for foodies. Additionally, cardholders can enjoy up to $120 in annual dining credits and $120 in Uber Cash. However, some may find its $250 annual fee a drawback.
- Generous Rewards Program: The Amex Gold Card offers excellent rewards for dining, US supermarkets and airfare. You can earn Membership Rewards points, which are valuable and can be redeemed for travel, statement credits, gift cards, and more.
- Travel Benefits: Cardholders receive baggage and rental car insurance, as well as a $100 credit on select hotel stays through The Hotel Collection.
- Dining credits: The combined $240 in annual dining and Uber Cash credits can offset the $250 annual fee. See rates and fees.
- $250 annual fee: The Amex Gold annual fee is higher than average for a travel rewards card and lacks premium travel perks.
- Limited travel protections: While the card includes baggage insurance, there’s no travel insurance and the rental car coverage is secondary.
- Subject to Amex’s once-per-lifetime rule: If you’ve received a welcome bonus for this card in the past, you likely won’t be eligible for another one.
American Express Gold Card benefits
The American Express Gold Card has many benefits that can make it a great addition to your wallet. These include generous rewards, travel protections and statement credits that can save you money and free up your travel budget. Here’s a complete look at all of the Amex Gold Card’s benefits:
The Amex Gold Card offers a solid welcome bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $6,000 in the first six months of card membership. These points can be redeemed for travel rewards, cash back or transferred to various airline and hotel partners (more on that later). The welcome offer is a great way to kickstart your rewards journey. However, it’s worth noting that Amex imposes a once-per-lifetime policy on welcome bonuses. If you’ve received a welcome bonus for this card in the past, you likely won’t be eligible for another one unless you’re specifically targeted for one.
The Amex Gold Card really shines when it comes to earning rewards on everyday purchases. The card earns 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide and delivery in the US, 4X points at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year, then 1X), 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel and 1X on all other purchases.
While the Amex Gold Card doesn't have as extensive travel benefits as some premium travel cards, it offers no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees) and access to The Hotel Collection, including a $100 experience credit on minimum two-night hotel stays. The card also waives foreign transaction fees, so you won’t be penalized with what could be up to a 3% fee when using your card abroad.
The Amex Gold Card provides baggage insurance of $500 for checked bags and $1,250 for carry-ons. Cardholders also receive secondary rental car insurance, meaning if you’re involved in an accident not covered by your insurance, you’re protected by your credit card’s plan. You can upgrade to primary coverage by enrolling in Amex’s Premium Car Rental Protection program. The cost per rental ranges from $12.25 to $24.95.
The Amex Gold Card comes with valuable annual credits that can help offset its steep annual fee. Cardholders earn up to $120 in dining credits each year, which can be used at Shake Shack, Cheesecake Factory, Milk Bar, Wine.com, GoldBelly and Grubhub. Additionally, there’s a $10 monthly Uber Cash, valid on rides or Uber Eats meal deliveries. These recurring credits add extra value and almost entirely offset the card’s $250 annual fee.
How to redeem Membership Rewards points
American Express Membership Rewards are some of the most valuable points you can earn. Amex has a robust rewards program, partnering with 21 airline and hotel loyalty programs to which you can transfer your points. If you want a simpler option, you can redeem points at a flat rate towards travel bookings, gift cards or statement credits. These options provide flexibility and value when you want to save money or upgrade your travel experience. Here are all the ways you can redeem Membership Rewards points:
Transfer to Membership Rewards travel partners
American Express Membership Rewards has 21 airline and hotel transfer partners, allowing you to maximize the value of your points. Most transfers are 1:1, with the occasional promotion offering bonus points when you transfer to specific partners.
Transfer partnerships allow you to choose the program that best suits your needs and earn more value from your rewards. Whether you're looking to book flights or secure hotel stays, these transfer partners can provide exceptional value for your points:
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- AeroMexico Rewards
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- All Nippon Airways Mileage Club
- Avianca Lifemiles
- British Airways Executive Club
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Choice Privileges
- Delta SkyMiles
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
- Hilton Honors
- Iberia Plus
- JetBlue TrueBlue
- Marriott Bonvoy
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Qatar Airways Privilege Club
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
Book or upgrade travel
You can use Membership Rewards points to book flights, hotels and car rentals through the American Express travel portal. At 1 cent per point, this isn’t the best redemption. However, it’s a viable option if you can’t find award availability and want to use points to save money on travel.
Redeeming Amex points for statement credits presents a poor value proposition. You’ll earn 0.6 cents per point, which is about a third of the value you can extract from most airline partners. If you’re going to redeem your Amex points primarily for statement credits, you might be better off getting a no-annual-fee cash-back card.
You can redeem Amex points for gift cards at 1 cent each. Participating merchants include Panera, Barnes & Noble, TJ Maxx and others. Again, this isn’t the best use of Amex points, but it is an available option. During the pandemic, some consumers found value in redeeming points for gift cards since travel was out of the question. Again, we only recommend this as a last resort.
Shop with points
Amex lets you shop with points with popular merchants like Amazon, Best Buy, Grubhub, PayPal and more. You can redeem your points at checkout after providing your Amex Gold Card as payment. At 0.5 cents per point, this is one of the worst uses of Amex points.
Comparison to other cards
The American Express Gold Card offers plenty of useful benefits and the ability to earn valuable rewards on everyday spending. When compared to cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Amex Gold Card shines in offering dining and grocery bonuses but lags behind on travel benefits. Here’s a look at how the Amex Gold Card compares to other credit cards:
Amex Gold Card vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is one of the most popular travel rewards credit cards, offering generous rewards on travel and dining, plus valuable benefits like primary rental car insurance and trip cancellation/interruption coverage. The Sapphire Preferred has a lower annual fee at $95 compared to the Amex Gold, giving it a leg up for those with a limited budget. Cardholders earn up to 5 points per dollar spent on Ultimate Rewards travel bookings and 2 points per dollar on all other travel.
The card rewards everyday expenses generously, with 3X points on dining, online grocery purchases and select streaming. When you’re ready to redeem points, they’re worth 1.25 cents each through the Ultimate Rewards travel portal. You can also transfer points to 14 different airline and hotel partners, 10 of which are also Amex Membership Rewards transfer partners.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a better option for those willing to swap a high annual fee for lower rewards on dining and travel. It’s also a better choice for premium travel protections.
Amex Gold Card vs. Citi Premier® Card
Similar to the Amex Gold Card, the Citi Premier® Card is great for those who want to earn above-average rewards on common spending categories. The card earns 3 points per dollar at restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, hotels and air travel. The welcome bonus for the the Citi Premier® Card is similar to the Amex Gold Card at 60,000 points after spending $4,000 within three months of account opening.
The card’s $95 annual fee is lower than the Amex Gold and entirely offset by a $100 annual hotel savings benefit. Granted, this perk only applies to hotel bookings of $500 or more made through the Citi ThankYou Travel portal, but it can still offer substantial savings. Citi has 17 hotel and airline transfer partners, including 12 in common with Amex Membership Rewards.
The only significant drawback to the Citi Premier is that it offers no purchase or travel protections. Whether you’re traveling or making the occasional splurge, you want credit card coverage to protect your purchases. Unfortunately, the Citi Premier does not.
Amex Gold Card vs. Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
The Amex Gold Card and the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card both offer high rewards while catering to different consumers. The Amex Gold Card offers high rewards on dining and US supermarkets, making it an excellent choice for individuals who spend significantly in these two categories. However, the Capital One Venture Card can be a better option for those who want to earn above-average rewards on all spending, not just specific categories. The card earns 2X miles on all purchases and 5X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel. The Venture Card’s $95 annual fee is also more palatable than the Amex Gold's $250 annual fee.
The Capital One Venture Card might also be better suited for frequent travelers, thanks to two annual club lounge passes, travel accident insurance and more flexible reward opportunities. The card’s welcome bonus is higher than the Amex Gold’s at 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. These points are worth up to $750 towards travel purchases or you can transfer them to 18 airline and hotel partners – 12 of which are also part of the Amex Membership Rewards program.
The best option comes down to your spending habits and whether you’re willing to pay a higher annual fee for a few dining perks. If not, the Venture Card’s travel-centric benefits might be more your speed.
Is the American Express Gold Card worth getting?
Whether the Amex Gold Card is worth getting depends on your spending habits and travel goals. If you dine out frequently and spend a significant amount on groceries, the rewards and benefits can outweigh the annual fee. With its bonus rewards categories in these areas and dining credits, you can get exceptional value from this card.
The Amex Membership Rewards program is also one of the best programs for rewards travel. With 21 airline and hotel partners, you can save a great deal on both domestic and international travel.
However, if you want a card with a lower annual fee and more robust travel protections, then you might want to look elsewhere. Cards like the Capital One Venture and Chase Sapphire Preferred might be a better fit for you.
While the steep annual fee may deter some, the Amex Gold Card's robust rewards potential and exclusive perks make it a top choice for frequent travelers and those who frequently spend in the 4X bonus categories. Considering Amex has a once-per-lifetime rule in place, you might want to consider waiting until the welcome bonus on the Gold Card increases beyond 60,000 points.
How do I maximize the dining credits on the Amex Gold Card?
To maximize the dining credits on the Amex Gold Card, ensure you use the card for eligible dining expenses and take advantage of the $10 monthly annual dining credits by dining at participating restaurants and food delivery services. The card also provides an additional $10 monthly Uber Cash, so you’ll want to be sure to redeem that as well.
Can I transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to airline partners?
Yes, you can transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to 21 airline and hotel loyalty partners, allowing you to redeem them for flights and other travel rewards.
Does the Amex Gold Card offer rental car insurance?
The Amex Gold Card does not provide primary rental car insurance, but it does offer secondary rental car insurance coverage, which can be useful when your personal auto insurance doesn’t cover a loss. You can also purchase Premium Car Rental Protection from Amex, starting from $12.25 per rental.
How does the Amex Gold annual fee compare to other premium cards?
The Amex Gold Card’s $250 annual fee is relatively lower compared to some other premium credit cards, though it’s higher than most travel rewards cards. You do earn numerous benefits that can make the annual fee worthwhile.
What are the benefits of Amex's The Hotel Collection?
Amex's The Hotel Collection offers cardholders benefits such as room upgrades, a $100 hotel credit, and complimentary breakfast for two at participating hotels when booked through the American Express Travel portal, enhancing the overall travel experience.
* Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.